Learning a lesson

Eisenhower High School students, community recreate mock crash to avoid destructive decisions

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Warren County Coroner confirms that Lauren Honhart is dead following a two-vehicle crash in which she was thrown from an ATV as volunteers from Lander, Sugar Grove, and Russell work to extricate Adam Pascuzzi and Maya Edwards from the other vehicle involved in the mock crash. The sophomore, junior, and senior classes at Eisenhower High School witnessed a Mock Crash on Thursday involving their classmates that brought together the Lander, Russell, and Sugar Grove volunteer fire departments, Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Warren County Coroner, Warren County Adult Probation, Warren County Public Safety, EmergyCare, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Starflight, and the Warren County Career Center moulage (make-up) crew. The Mock Crash event is intended to give students a close-up look at what can happen in cases of driving under the influence, distracted driving, and other destructive decisions.

“So much blood.”

“I’m scared.”

“We need help.”

“I think she’s dead.”

Students at Eisenhower High School listened, unable to help, as a group of their classmates suffered after a two-vehicle mock crash Thursday afternoon.

In the mock crash, Spencer Head, Adam Pascuzzi, and Maya Edwards were the injured actors, and trapped in the car that Head was portraying to be driving to a party. The car had been broadsided by an ATV.

Jeremy Carlson was driving the ATV to the same party. He and Lauren Honhart were thrown off of the vehicle.

After the crash, Carlson is on the ground.

Honhart is on the hood of the car.

Neither is moving.

Head is trapped in the driver’s seat of the car. The view in front of him is his girlfriend’s lifeless body.

He and Pascuzzi try to wake Honhart. They shake her. They yell at her. She does not respond.

A passerby calls 911. About five minutes later a distant siren can be heard. Russell.

Help came. The response arrived fairly quickly to the Miller Hill crash site where an ATV trail crosses the road. But not so quickly that the assembled sophomores, juniors, and seniors, didn’t get to hear the victims yelling in pain and concern for their friends.

“I’m bleeding everywhere.”

“Spencer, stay with us.”

“The ambulance has to be coming.”

Then, at about eight minutes, a closer siren. This one growing louder.

Carlson awakens.

“I can’t move. What do I do?”

At 10 minutes, the first responders arrive from Lander Volunteer Fire Department.

A firefighter talks to the young people in the car, asking about their injuries.

He makes some decisions. Carlson is the most seriously injured and will be treated first. Honhart is beyond help.

Head says he has been drinking. The firefighter saves that information until police arrive.

Over the next several minutes, responders in trucks and cars, ambulances, a police cruiser, and fire trucks arrive.

Calls are made to Warren County Coroner Jerry Borden and Starflight.

The helicopter cannot come due to the weather.

The coroner is on his way. He will be needed.

Carlson is taken away. Less than 20 minutes have passed.

Honhart’s body is in the way and it is placed on the ground in front of the car so responders can help the living.

When Head finally gets out of the car, he is immediately given a field sobriety test by Warren County Deputy Sheriff Mick Johnson. He fails and is charged with DUI.

Borden arrives. He checks on Honhart. He covers her face.

Parents and grandparents of the injured students arrive.

There is nothing for them to do but weep. They are kept out of the way.

Responders have to cut the roof off of the car to free Pascuzzi and Edwards.

After almost 40 minutes the last of the students is taken away for treatment.

Later, Head, bearing the injuries from the crash, spoke at Honhart’s funeral.

“She was not only my girlfriend,” he said. “She was my best friend.”

“I wish I could hold her one last time and tell her how sorry I am,” Head said.

The exercise was a good chance for the responders to practice.

“We always take a chance to drill,” Lander Chief Darryl Bergstrom said. “When we can turn it into a learning experience, we take it very seriously.”

About 30 volunteers participated in the exercise. Some took vacation time off of work to make it happen, Bergstrom said. “We have a great turnout here.”

The exercise brought many organizations together. Lander, Russell, and Sugar Grove volunteer fire departments participated, as did EmergyCare, Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Borden, Warren County Adult Probation, Warren County Public Safety, Students Against Destructive Decisions, the Warren County Career Center moulage (make-up) crew. Starflight usually participates if there is a helicopter available and weather permits.

But the event was more for students than it was for responders.

“If it can save one person’s life, that’s what we want,” Bergstrom said. “That’s what this is all about.”

A long weekend, graduation parties, and proms…

There will be chances for students to make destructive decisions.

“The decision to take a life is not yours to make,” Teacher Eric Shotts said. “It takes one split second to put somebody in the ground.”

Shotts pointed to the casket next to Honhart’s picture on the stage. “I don’t want to have to see anyone inside one of those.”

“The power is in your hands to make good decisions,” he said. “Be safe. Be smart.”